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Letters Volume I

[Carl Jung on Christianity, Buddhism and Islam]

To Paul Maag

Dear Colleague,        20 June 1933

I gather from your letter that when I said it was “presumptuous to credit human knowledge with a faculty that demonstrably exceeds its limitations,” this seemed to you to contradict my remark about the possibility of a subjective “experience of the Unfathomable.”

You seem to forget that I have never contested the possibility of subjective experience.

Subjective experience can be an object of scientific investigation only if it is taken as a psychologem.

You write: ”Lack of prejudice belongs to the very nature of science.”

This sentence plainly excludes the admixture of belief, for belief is a prejudice precisely because it is not scientific knowledge.

All scientific knowledge is open to discussion, belief isn’t.

What do you do with a Buddhist who regards the Buddha as a world redeemer, believes in no God and yet believes his particular view just as steadfastly as any Christian?

How do you prove that the one is right and the other is not?

If you do not separate belief and science, you subordinate all science to theology as in the Middle Ages.

And to what does theology appeal in order possibility of discussion and hence is absolutely untenable as a scientific principle, since otherwise science would be prejudiced, which your own admission it should not be, because it belongs to its on nature to be unprejudiced.

How subjective belief is you can see from the fact that I positively do not believe that Christianity is the only and the highest manifestation of the truth.

There is at least as much truth in Buddhism, and in other religions too.

If for instance I had to choose between the Greek Orthodox Church and Islam, I would opt for Islam.

If you brag about your belief, others brag about theirs.

Thus all discussion is only a religious war, but any real discussion remains impossible.

With collegial regards,

Yours sincerely,

C.G. Jung

There are beautiful examples of this in the Arabian art which went hand in hand with the psychic reorientation of a primitive society under the influence of Islam. ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Page 387.

It [Taj Mahal] is the delicate secret of the rose gardens of Shiraz and of the silent patios of Arabian palaces, torn out of the heart of a great lover by a cruel and incurable loss. The mosques of the Moguls and their tombs may be pure and austere, their divans, or audience halls, may be of impeccable beauty, but the Taj Mahal is a revelation. It is thoroughly un-Indian. It is more like a plant that could thrive and flower in the rich Indian earth as it could nowhere else. It is Eros in its purest form; there is nothing mysterious, nothing symbolic about it. It is the sublime expression of human love for a human being. ~ Carl Jung, Jung by Gerhard Wehr, Page 285

it [Islamic Mosque] was a perfect square with very beautiful broad pillared corridors on each side. The House of Ablution, where the ritual washings take place, was in the center. A spring of water welled forth there and formed the bath of rejuvenation, of spiritual rebirth. Jung described the dusty, crowded streets outside, and said that this vast hall seemed like entering the Court of Heaven, as if it were heaven itself. He had the impression of perfected concentration and of being accepted in the immense void of heaven, and this religion, where God is really a call, at last became comprehensible to him …. He spoke of hearing the call- “Allah!”-echoing through this vast hall, and of feeling that the call itself penetrated to heaven. Such impressions and those of the far more ancient culture were so enthralling to Jung. ~Carl Jung, “Jung” by Gerhard Wehr, Page 243

He [Massignon] had lectured before the war at Eranos, from 1937 to 1939, and we had all appreciated his lectures on Islam and his experience of Islamic countries. ~Barbara Hannah, Jung: His Life and His Work, Page 198

India honored me with three doctorates, from Allahabad, Benares, and Calcutta representatives of Islam, of Hinduism, and of British-Indian medicine and science. ~Carl Jung, Memories Dreams and Reflections, Page 280

This is probably one of the reasons why precisely those religions founded by historical personages have become world religions, such as Christianity, Buddhism, and Islam. The inclusion in a religion of a unique human persona fits especially when conjoined to an indefinable divine nature is consistent with the absolute individuality of the Self, which combines uniqueness with eternity and the individual with the universal. ~Carl Jung, CW 12 Para 22

On this empirical foundation every religion has erected its temple, and the two intolerant ones among them, Christianity and Islam, vie with each. other in raising the totalitarian claim that their temple is the only right one. ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. I, Page 346

Then we have the exercises of Loyola, stemming from Islam. All these various Christian methods of contemplation and meditation have one thing in common: the image to be meditated upon as well as the kind of meditation are presented to the candidate from outside. ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. I, Page 416

We could say that it was owing to Al-Ghazzali that Islam became a mystical religion, though we in the West know very little today of this mystical side. So Christian theologians became acquainted with the devotional and mystical books of the Arabs and they made a vast impression upon them. ~Carl Jung, ETH Lecture 10Nov1939, Page 178.